The New York Jets added a plethora of undrafted free agents in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. Here’s an inside look at defensive end Lawrence Thomas.
While sorting through the undrafted free agency class of 2016 of the New York Jets for my series concerning them, I once again found an interesting prospect. The further I dig into this class, the more I am convinced that the Jets’ scouting department did a bang up job of finding talent under the radar.
For this article, I once again step away from the big news stories to feature defensive end Lawrence Thomas. Thomas signed with the Jets post draft weighing 286 pounds and standing 6’3″ tall. Thomas was listed as a defensive end in this year’s draft, but he’s a bit more than that.
Thomas is a product of the Michigan State University football program. At the college level, all Thomas did was display his athleticism and versatility. Thomas joined Michigan State in 2011 and spent his first year sitting on the bench and learning. After being red shirted in 2011, Thomas came on and started to impress some coaches and started to be noted by NFL scouts in attendance.
The versatile athlete that Thomas proved he is, split his initial year between full back, defensive tackle and defensive end for the Spartans. Offensively, he managed seven catches for 78 yards coming out of the backfield. Defensively, he accounted for three tackles while playing in all 12 games in a part time role.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets should target TE Hunter Henry in free agency
- NY Jets: Why the team should target cornerback Shaquill Griffin
- NY Jets reportedly non-tendering linebacker Harvey Langi
- NY Jets: Why the team should not cut Jamison Crowder
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
The next season saw Thomas with a nagging back injury.
Thomas played one game on the season before losing the year for good with his back issues.
Thomas was playing defensive tackle before going down with his injury.
He returned healthy for the Spartan’s and played along the defensive line.
Thomas impressed more than a few fans with his play. For the season, he totaled 30 tackles, nine of the solo variety and 4.5 for loss of yardage. He also showed he can get into the backfield and harass quarterbacks, posting three sacks on the year.
Again healthy in 2015, the Spartan coaching staff moved him outside to defensive end for the season. A position not all that familiar to Thomas, but he responded by posting 38 tackles with five tackles for loss and three sacks.
Another positive for Thomas is his ability to drop back in coverage when asked. His college stats credit him with six pass breakups for his career. Thomas’ 2016 NFL Combine turned a few heads at the event for a guy his size. He ran the forty-yard dash in 4.98 seconds, provided a nine foot eight broad jump, a 35 inch vertical jump as well as 25 reps of 225 pounds.
Thomas is still raw and will need to develop a true pass rushing resume at the NFL. To make the roster of the Jets this summer, he’ll need to continue to show development and learn to play special teams for the team. Thomas could be a potential candidate for the practice squad this season as well.
Fortunately for Thomas, he has a good part of the summer to find his fit with the Jets. Much like all these players in this class, Thomas will need to prove to the coaching staff exactly what he can do on the football field for the Jets. Thomas will get his chance, but he’ll need to make noise to get noticed. He’s another young player I’ll be watching into the summer. Raw but talented, let’s hope the Jets keep him to develop into something down the line.
Do you have a take on Thomas? Do you think he can make the final cut? We here at The Jet Press respect the opinions of our readers and want to hear all about them. Please leave us a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!